Image: Mark Gray and the back of his running vest listing everyone he is running in memory of in the 2019 London Marathon.
“We have been through so much as a family. Cancer has devastated us – it has been relentless, so I am extremely passionate about supporting the ICR.
“I have been so motivated to fundraise and train for this marathon – I feel so much better in myself since running and everyone has been so supportive.”
Mark’s family has been devastated by cancer. He was just 20 when his father died of lung cancer, aged 49, just a year older than Mark is now.
Sadly, since then, Mark has lost two siblings to cancer, only two years apart from each other. His half-brother died from cancer shortly after finding a lesion on his leg, and his sister just months after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Another two years later, Mark’s younger sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer, but thankfully her treatment was successful and she is doing well.
Amazing research at the ICR
After the family had been so blighted by cancer, it was Mark’s younger sister who suspected there must be something connecting it all. But doctors told them that having had different types of cancer, it was unlikely there was a genetic link.
Mark’s sister didn’t give up and eventually they got genetic testing, which revealed that they shared a rare genetic fault in the TP53 gene that has resulted in some of the family having Li-Fraumeni syndrome, including Mark. The inherited condition puts them at a very high risk of developing many types of cancer.
“To find out about the amazing research that the ICR has done, and is doing, into Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is so rare, has been so inspiring. It is amazing to see everyone so happy to donate to the ICR – it is such a worthy cause. There was only one charity I could have applied to run for and that was the ICR.”
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